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Waste segregation in terminals

Responsible Heathrow case study

Running Heathrow generates around 110,000 tonnes of waste each year, a similar volume to that generated by all the households in a typical London borough. To help us manage this responsibly, we aim that, by 2020, 70% of our waste is recycled or composted.

Segregating waste at source makes recycling easier and less expensive, and is essential to help us achieve this target. But with 320 different companies operating in our terminals, and  200,000 passengers passing through every day, making sure that different waste streams are kept separate is one of our biggest challenges.

To address this challenge, we work closely with our partners in the terminals, such as retailers and facilities companies on a number of initiatives. Thanks to these initiatives, and on-going engagement with airport employees, we increased recycling in terminals by 16% in just 6 months during 2012.

To maximise the amount of waste that is segregated, we employ staff to manually sort waste streams, taking recycling rates from 30 – 43% at Terminal 3 alone. During 2012, 617 tonnes of food waste was collected directly from catering and retail premises and converted by anaerobic digestion into soil conditioner which is used for landscaping at the airport.

We’ve also been trialling signage for passengers and staff who don’t have English as a first language to increase awareness and understanding of what waste should be deposited in each bin.

Heathrow’s Sustainable Mobility Zone in partnership with Guardian Sustainable Business